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Poetry

Roger Hecht

Roger W. Hecht photo

Roger W. Hecht teaches literature and creative writing at SUNY, Oneonta. His books include a poetry collection, Talking Pictures (Cervena Barva Press), a chapbook, Lunch at the Table of Opposites (Red Dancefloor Press), and an edited anthology, The Erie Canal Reader (Syracuse University Press). His work has appeared in Zoomoozophone, The Otter, Diagram, Elimae, Prick of the Spindle, The Ledge, and Denver Quarterly. He lives near Ithaca, NY.

Shoe Town, 1980

Straightening women’s shoes in the size 8 aisle.
I’m only sixteen. It’s my first real job.
I find strays on the benches, never their mates.
I shadow two black women in their thirties, maybe forty.

I’m only sixteen. It’s my first real job.
I watch heat rise off the parking lot through the glass double doors
& shadow two black women in their thirties, maybe forty.
One seems done with work; the other fresh off the tennis court.

I watch heat rise off the parking lot through the glass double doors.
No one seems to know what they’re looking for.
One seems done with work; the other fresh off the tennis court.
The manager in the storeroom crouches behind boxes.

No one seems to know what they’re looking for.
I say, is there something in particular you want?
The manager in the storeroom crouches behind the boxes
Looking through a one-way glass.

I say, is there something in particular you want?
I want them to think I’m being helpful,
Looking through a one-way glass
Not fully comprehending what I see.

I want them to think I’m being helpful.
I work with a kid who has an artificial eye,
Not fully comprehending what I see.
He said with a straight face he didn’t like niggers.

I work with a kid who has an artificial eye
who always came back from break smelling of smoke.
He said with a straight face he didn’t like niggers.
Just like the manager. On the floor, he always smiles.

He always came back from break smelling of smoke.
I get yelled at when my own break runs too long.
Just like the manager, on the floor, he always smiles,
he helps her find the blue pump she wants.

I get yelled at when my own break runs too long,
& make up my mind to quit, but not before
I help her find the blue pump she wants,
still pretending I’m shadowing them.

I make up my mind to quit, but not before
straightening shoes in the size 8 aisle,
still pretending. I’m shadowing them.
I find strays on the benches. Never their mates.

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